On July 24, 2023 in Providence, Rhode Island, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator David Cash joined senior Rhode Island elected officials, state experts and local advocates to celebrate a grant of $500,000 from President Biden‘s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the cleanup of a brownfields site in Rhode Island while also advancing environmental justice.
Under EPA’s Brownfields program, the competitive grant will be awarded to the What Cheer Flower Farm of Providence.
“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this grant will be used to cleanup the site of an abandoned factory, which will help the flower farm expand operations and services in an underserved part of the City of Providence, providing flowers, greenspace and training to those who need it most,” he added.
What Cheer Flower Farm was selected to receive $500,000 for a Brownfields Cleanup Grant that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The grant funds will be used to clean up the 2.7-acre site located at 63 Magnolia Street in the City of Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood, which is currently contaminated with metals, chlorinated volatile organic compounds, petroleum, and inorganic contaminants from previous manufacturing operations.
The What Cheer Flower farm will also use their funds to support community outreach activities.
“The EPA’s Brownfields program continues to make important investments in communities across the Ocean State. With this federal funding for environmental remediation, What Cheer Flower Farm in Olneyville will grow its mission of delivering free flowers to Rhode Islanders in need of a smile, and help stimulate the local economy,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
“What Cheer Flower Farm brings so much joy to our community by growing flowers to give to hospitals, senior centers and more,” said U.S. Congressman Seth Magaziner. “I am proud to announce this federal funding that will help What Cheer Flower Farm to continue cleaning up this land and growing its beautiful flowers in a safe environment.”
Many communities that are under economic stress, particularly those located in areas that have experienced long periods of disinvestment, lack the resources needed to initiate brownfields cleanup and redevelopment projects.
As brownfields sites are transformed into community assets, they attract jobs, promote economic revitalization, and transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places.
“I commend the dedicated volunteers and staff of What Cheer Flower Farm for planting seeds of change and I am pleased to help deliver this $500,000 federal grant to help urban renewal blossom here in Olneyville. This federal brownfields funding will accelerate budding progress at What Cheer Flower Farm and transform the derelict former Colonial Knife site into a thriving, inviting urban flower farm and community asset,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
“Rhode Island has had a great deal of brownfields successes and partnerships. This is another good example of federal funding supporting community-driven revitalization In a way that helps deliver economic gains and environmental benefits,” he continued.
Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever before begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity, and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.
EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments to disadvantaged communities. The Brownfields Program strives to meet this commitment and advance environmental justice and equity considerations into all aspects of its work. Approximately 84 percent of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding proposed to work in areas that include historically underserved communities.
EPA has selected these organizations to receive funding to address and support the reuse of brownfields sites. EPA anticipates making all the awards announced today once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.
EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfields Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfields sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding has leveraged, from both public and private sources, nearly 260,000 jobs. Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields Grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar.
This investment is part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to grow the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient. Thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this is the largest ever funding awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.
All photos courtesy of What Cheer Flower Farm.